From the Archives: What It Means to Be a Precedent Breaker

Editor’s Be aware: In 2022, SUCCESS celebrates 125 years as {a magazine}. Since its inception, it has stayed true to its function: to supply its readers the instruments, the inspiration and the recipe for enhancing their lives. Every concern, you’ll get a glimpse at that storied previous, which highlights one necessary level: The world modifications, however the instruments of self-improvement are fixed. This piece, initially revealed in July 1909, has been edited for size, readability and elegance.

“How is it, I ought to wish to ask,” mentioned an indignant member of the Harvard College medical school, at one in all its conferences, some forty years in the past, “that after eighty years through which this school has been managing its personal affairs, and doing it nicely, it’s now proposed to vary all our modes of carrying on the college?” “I can reply the physician’s query,” replied younger Mr. Eliot, who presided on the assembly. “There’s a new president.” 

The brand new president was a younger man of thirty-five, fearless, daring, self-confident, with no respect for a factor simply because it was previous or had been performed or used earlier than. He had brand-new concepts about operating a college, and he additionally had the braveness in addition to the flexibility to hold them out. He was decided to place new blood, new life into the previous establishment of which he had been made head, it doesn’t matter what precedents he broke, or whose views he antagonized. 

Profile portrait of American Educator Charles W. Eliot (1836-1926), president of Harvard 1869-1909.

Younger Eliot discovered the tutorial and non secular programs of Harvard fully encrusted with traditions, however he was fearless sufficient and ready sufficient to interrupt by means of them, and, as a consequence, the little Unitarian faculty of 4 hundred college students, below his good management, grew to become one of many biggest and most progressive universities on the planet, with six thousand college students, and with extra instructors when he just lately retired from the presidency than it had college students when he stepped into energy. 

Maybe no American in latest occasions has been such a terrific maker of males, such a revolutionizer of academic strategies, such a breaker of academic traditions and medieval precedents, which have paralyzed so lots of our schools and universities, as President Eliot. 

Leaders have ever been precedent breakers. Timid folks, regardless of how ready, by no means make leaders. Fearlessness and originality are attribute of all males of progress. They haven’t any reverence for the previous just because it’s previous; with them it’s at all times a query of pushing ahead, of enhancing on the previous, as a substitute of slavishly copying it. 

What Charles W. Eliot had performed for the tutorial world, the Marshall Fields, the Wanamakers, the James J. Hills, the Carnegies have performed for the enterprise world. 

Marshall Discipline was decided from the primary that when prospects got here into his retailer they need to see the marks of a vigorous originality all over the place, one thing completely different, one thing which that they had by no means seen earlier than. He was decided that no matter he did ought to be his personal, that he can be himself, that he wouldn’t copy some other service provider, regardless of how profitable. He didn’t care what others did; he made his personal program, blazed his personal path. He was by no means afraid to belief his personal judgment, or danger his repute upon his personal concepts. He was a born chief and was not afraid to go forward, to blaze a brand new path which no service provider had ever trodden earlier than. 

John Wanamaker didn’t say that as a result of A.T. Stewart had been America’s service provider prince he would imitate him, comply with him. Each Stewart and Wanamaker succeeded in a outstanding diploma in the identical retailer in New York, however their strategies had been as completely different as these of Wanamaker and Marshall Discipline. 

Don’t be afraid of being unique, even eccentric; don’t be a replica of your father, your grandfather, or your neighbor. This is able to be as silly as it might be for the violet to attempt to be a rose. Each man is born to do a sure work in an unique manner. If he tries to repeat another man or to do another man’s work, he will likely be a misfit, a failure. 

A grasp thoughts can’t be made to suit a sample or to adapt to any set routine or system. Each robust man’s achievement is an outpicturing of himself, of his particular person concepts. What he manufactures and sells, the conduct of his enterprise, the e-book he writes, the image he paints, the sermon he preaches—that is the expression to the world of what was wrapped up in himself, not in another person. 

Basic Grant did what all of the generals who condemned him for not following battle precedents in textual content books on army ways couldn’t do, he ended the battle. Napoleon ignored all earlier battle strategies, broke all battle precedents in his conquering march by means of Europe. Males of power and initiative are at all times breaking precedents. 

Our nice presidents have all been nice tradition-breakers—the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Jacksons, Lincolns, Roosevelts—males who broke new floor, blazed new trails, and led folks regularly, vigorously, ahead within the march of progress. 

Roosevelt had little use for White Home precedents or political traditions. In each place, the place as police commissioner, Governor, Vice-President or President, he has at all times insisted on being himself—no one else. He by no means tried to mimic or copy his heroes. Irrespective of how a lot he admires a person, he by no means imitates him. An excessive amount of his outstanding power comes from being himself. 

The imitator ruins his capability for originality, for initiative; he loses his inventive energy; his inventiveness and resourcefulness are by no means developed. In actual fact, his govt capacity—the flexibility to originate, to do issues—is critically crippled, if not totally destroyed by his efforts to mimic some one else. 

No human being ever but made successful making an attempt to be any person else, regardless of how nice or profitable that individual is perhaps. Success can’t be efficiently copied; it’s unique; it’s self-expression. A person is a failure simply in proportion as he will get away from himself.  

Copied thought, at all times and all over the place, whether or not in books, sermons, work, or enterprise strategies, at all times lacks freshness, vigor, spontaneity, naturalness. The worked-over thought is sort of a warmed-over griddle cake; it lacks the crispness and taste of the unique. 

It’s not the artist who can faithfully copy Raphael or Millet who will change into well-known, however the one who can paint an image that was by no means placed on canvas earlier than. The artist who can categorical his superb in his personal tints and colours, who can create one thing completely new, all his personal, is the one that may change into a grasp. 

Blaze your individual manner, or you’ll by no means make an impression on the world. It’s originality that counts. The world makes manner for the person with an concept. He’s wished all over the place. There’s little room for learners, taggers, trailers, followers. The world is wanting, as by no means earlier than, for the person with unique power, who leaves the overwhelmed observe and pushes into new fields; the doctor, the surgeon, who dares to depart from the strategies of those that have gone earlier than him; the lawyer who conducts his case in an unique manner; the instructor who brings new concepts and strategies into the schoolroom; the clergyman who has the braveness to proclaim his message, the message that was given to him, and never that which was given to another man who has put it right into a e-book. 

The advertisements typically inform as a lot of a narrative because the tales themselves, depicting the whole lot from trend tendencies to new books to house security ideas.

It’s a pitiable factor to undergo the world borrowing different folks’s concepts, plans, strategies; different folks’s judgment—operating to this one and that for recommendation—by no means creating your individual energy, independence, self-reliance. 

I’ve typically identified progressive younger males to cease rising and change into hopelessly rutty by going into their father’s retailer, manufacturing facility, or different office, the place the whole lot was performed in an old school manner, and precedent adopted in the whole lot. 

In all places we see enterprise homes laden with antiquated strategies, ponderous bookkeeping, out-of-date home equipment, as a result of their house owners cling to the previous with deadly tenacity. 

The up-to-date enterprise man is continually breaking apart old-time programs which have been handed down from father to son for a lot of generations. The progressive man pays little or no consideration to what was performed up to now. He is aware of that the world is new day-after-day, that it requires new remedy. He faces the solar of progress, he appears to be like towards the sunshine, he holds his thoughts open. He doesn’t care how many individuals have performed the work earlier than, or in what manner they’ve performed it, or what number of superstitions engirdle the factor he’s working upon, he does his work in his personal manner. The current state of the world’s progress is the results of the fixed breaking away from the previous, the elimination of worn-out equipment, of cast-off concepts, silly superstition, prejudice and worn-out strategies. 

England not lengthy since offered thirty-one fashionable warships, which value fifteen million {dollars}, for lower than 5 per cent of what it value to construct them. These ships had not been in fee a terrific a few years, however such has been the progress in shipbuilding that they’re already old-fashioned. 

An excellent throbbing, nearly human, how the printing press in the present day throws off accomplished papers quicker than one individual can depend them, and nice rolls of paper are reeled off nearly as quick as a horse can trot. The biggest skyscraper in New York wouldn’t maintain sufficient such printing presses as had been used fifty years in the past to end up the identical quantity of labor in equal time. 

In all places the brand new is crowding out the previous. Our newest equipment and electrical marvels will quickly be solely curiosities in our museums. 

The marvels of electrical energy, wi-fi telegraphy, the airship, the car, printing machines and different nearly human machines—all the innovations and discoveries which have emancipated man from drudgery and ameliorated his onerous situation—are the creations of males who weren’t content material to plod alongside within the overwhelmed paths of their fathers, however who stepped out of the gang, and blazed new trails for mankind. 

All the comforts, conveniences and luxuries of contemporary life had been conceived within the brains of males who broke away from precedent and hoary customs, and, typically regardless of issue, opposition and mock, established a brand new and higher order of issues that pushed the world ahead 1000’s of years on its progressive march.

The Howes, the Fields, the Stephensons, the Fultons, the Bells, the Morses, the Eliots, the Edisons, the Marconis, the Wrights—the precedent breakers in all ages and in each land—these are the lads who lead civilization onward, upward. 

“Dare to go ahead” was Baron Rothschild’s life motto, and it has been the maxim of all those that have left their mark on the world. 

Don’t be afraid of your individual concepts; consider in your self; assert your individuality.

This text initially appeared within the March/April 2022 Challenge of SUCCESS journal.

Marden was an American creator and founding father of SUCCESS journal.

  • Leave Comments